Both loquat and pomegranate are very visible in area landscapes. Loquats are loaded with yellow golf ball-size fruit and pomegranates are full of glow-in-the-dark orange flowers.
The pomegranate blooms may last another three weeks. What happens next will depend on whether the plant is a fruiting or ornamental variety. The fruiting selections will produce a nutritious hard-shelled, apple-size fruit that will ripen in September or October. It used to be that pomegranate fruit was more valuable for crafts projects than as a food item. The fruit can be colorful and is shaped like a “jesters head and hat!” Now, however, the fruit is greatly valued for its low-calorie, distinctive tart taste and highly nutritious juice.
There are many selections of pomegranate at area nurseries. Select the variety that has the growing habit and fruit characteristics that suits your requirements. The common selection is Wonderful, but check out Pink Satin, Austin, Ambrosia and the other varieties.
Grow pomegranate in full sun for the blooms and the fruit. It makes a deciduous shrub that can be 18 feet tall or 4 feet tall depending on the selection. Pomegranates are pest free and drought tolerant. Deer do not eat pomegranate in my neighborhood.
Another name for loquat is Japanese plum. It is an evergreen tree that grows to about 25 feet tall in good soils, but it is not fussy about soil quality. Loquat will grow in the sun or shade. The species is drought tolerant and pest free.
Loquat blooms in early winter to produce fruit in the spring. Many years the blooms and/or fruit are frozen back. The fruit is sweet and tasty, but many of those in landscapes have more seed than flesh. Improved selections with a larger proportion of fruit to seed do exist. Visit plantanswers.com for recipes for loquat jam and other uses.
Loquat is an excellent landscape tree. Use it as a specimen or in a row for a driveway or property line border. Plant loquat around the swimming pool to give it a tropical look. However, plant the tree far enough away from the pool, so dropping fruit is not a problem.
Wildlife likes loquat fruit. Expect the deer and birds to eat the fruit that falls to the ground. Other birds and climbing mammals, such as raccoons and opossums, will feed on the fruit in the tree. Deer do not normally eat the stems or foliage
Dr. Calvin Finch is Urban Water Program Director for the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.You can ask Calvin question and hear his answers on the air as he co-hosts the Gardening South Texas on the air at KLUP (AM 930) Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00pm.